Thursday, May 17, 2018

Smile, or there will be trouble...

Man... it's a good thing school will soon be out for the summer, especially for students in the Northern Lebanon School District in Lebanon, Pennsylvania.  For those students, smiling in the hallways is compulsory.  If a teacher sees a student in the hallway who isn't smiling, he or she will instruct the child to smile.  If the child refuses, he or she will be sent to the office for a reprimand or the guidance counselor to "talk out their problems."  And if the student refuses to talk about his or her "problems", detention is the consequence.

This "smile or suffer the consequences" bullshit is an unwritten rule that was apparently started by Assistant Principal Benjamin Wenger.  Wenger, along with High School Principal Jennifer Hassler and Middle School Principal Brad Reist, has also been accused of throwing around a sex toy during school hours.  Seems to me Mr. Wenger should have more on his mind than whether or not kids are smiling between classes.  According to several teachers, who requested to remain anonymous, the school has a serious problem with bullying and harassment.  But slap a smile on your face and ignore the problems, because if you don't, you're going to be disciplined.


This is the kind of expression I often had on my face when I was in high school.

I think if I were a high school student in Wenger's school, I might have real issues with this "smile or be detained" policy.  For one thing, I have a tendency to look bitchy.  I wouldn't say I necessarily have a "resting bitch face".  It's more like I get easily annoyed and it registers on my face.  That was especially true during my hormone filled and very dramatic high school years.  Moreover, at my school, the halls were usually very congested between classes.  In my day, we were allowed to walk outside to get to other parts of campus, but I don't think that's allowed anymore, thanks to all of the school shooters running amok in America lately.  I'm sure I'd have legitimate reasons not to smile as a high school student of today, but apparently at Wenger's school, that would be cause for concern and, perhaps, punishment.

I do wonder why Wenger feels it's appropriate to force students to smile.  What will that solve?  At best, it teaches young people to fake their real feelings.  At worst, it makes them less resilient, since a teacher or counselor will supposedly intervene if a student doesn't appear to be happy.  A person who smiles isn't necessarily fine, either.  When I was suffering from clinical depression, I used to crack jokes so often that people thought I was "happy".  One guy I used to work with even said I was one of the "happiest" people he'd ever met, even though I had just been diagnosed with major depression.

The news article I linked also indicates that a lot of students at Wenger's school have plenty of reasons not to smile.  Apparently, no one in charge is addressing issues with bullying and sexual harassment.  One mother, who was quoted in the article, reported that her daughter was repeatedly harassed by other students and called a "whore".  When the mother reported the bullying to Principal Jennifer Hassler, Hassler allegedly told her that she needed to "raise her daughter better" and accused the mother's daughter of being the one guilty of bullying.

Even when the school's resource officer backed up the mother's complaints, the principal insisted that it was up to the students to stop the bullying and harassment.  Hassler said the students needed to "be part of the solution rather than part of the problem", even though Pennsylvania state law required schools to adopt an anti bullying policy by January 1, 2009.  I suppose Hassler's little pearl of wisdom came between sex toy tossing sessions with her colleagues.

By the way, about that sex toy--  it was described as being a pink phallus about 10 inches long and about 3 inches thick with a suction cup at its base.  It was found in a school locker room and allegedly later given as a gag gift at an administrators' Christmas party.  Later, the sex toy thrown across the room during an administrative cabinet meeting.  Parents were plenty upset about the sex toy incident and demanded that the principals involved be demoted.  However, the school board voted 5-4 on May 1st not to demote the administration at the high school.

I don't know what in the world has happened to schools since my days as a student.  A couple of weeks ago, I read about Thomas Tramaglini, the school superintendent for Kenilworth School District in New Jersey.  Dr. Tramaglini, who at age 42 is younger than I am, was evidently regularly stealth shitting on Holmdel High School's track and leaving his messes for others to clean up.  He was finally caught with his pants down when a hidden camera captured evidence of him in the act.  Dr. Tamaglini is currently on paid leave from his job, which pays a salary of over $147,000 per year.

Something must be in the water in America's schools.  It seems that public education has gone right down the shitter.  I can see why so many parents are choosing to homeschool or use cyber education programs rather than sending their children to school.  It seems like public education has completely gone awry in the last twenty-five years or so.  No wonder America isn't as "great" as it used to be... not that it ever was that great to begin with.

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